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Sunday, April 17, 2022

Outer Range 1.1-2: Elusive Hybrid



The hybrid of science fiction/fantasy with the western (contemporary or historical) genre has long been sought after, touted as a natural, powerful combination for a television series, for as far back as I can remember.  But it's seldom been realized, and off the top of my head, I can't think of a single successful example.  Last year's Invasion on Apple TV+ took a shot with a lead-off episode out West, with no less an actor than Sam Neill in the lead -- but it was the weakest episode segment in an otherwise top-notch series.  My wife suggested Westworld as an example that achieved the elusive goal, and yes, it did, but only partially, because the heart of its narrative was not western.

But I'll never say no to a recipe which seems so logical, so I'll gave Outer Range and its first two episodes which went up on Amazon Prime Video on Friday a shot.  The upshot: I wasn't blown away by the narrative, but I liked it enough to keep watching.

[Spoilers ahead ...]

Here's the story:  On a ranch in Wyoming, Royal Abbott (well played by Josh Brolin) discovers a water hole or pond (I'm not sure what it is, or should be called) that has some strange properties.   It's not clear as yet exactly what those are either, but they may entail bringing back the dead, or some kind of time travel, if the bison that keeps appearing with some arrows in its side is any indication.  Before the two hours are over, Royal throws a dead body (whom one of his sons killed) into the water, and is shoved in the water himself by Autumn (Imogen Poots -- great name), a young woman who shows up with a deep interest in the area.  Royal comes back fine the next day -- with just a wound in his leg -- but the dead body, not as yet.  Autumn clearly has some knowledge of what's going on, but even she doesn't know the whole story -- she's surprised when Royal comes back.  It's also no doubt also significant that Royal's daughter-in-law is missing (did she fall into the water hole and then the hole disappeared, too?).

So clearly, there are a lot of provocative questions in the air, which means a lot of possibilities for this series.  I would have advised Amazon to put up all eight episodes of Outer Range, so it could be properly binged and therefore comprehended and appreciated.  But, as I said, I'm sufficiently intrigued to watch more, and I'll see you back here with my reviews of the next two episodes next week.




  



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